One Size Fits Most

I’ve edited the text below from a post that’s been re shared dozens of times on my news feed to fit my perception. I know that there are a few out there that will get this.
Ever since I got my first motorcycle to getting my first Harley-Davidson, (Jim Wasdin) and then 43 years later been involved in my first and last real crash, I’d been told endless times, “it’s dangerous”, “you’ll get hurt”, “we don’t want anything to happen to you”, “it’s not worth it”, “you could DIE.”
Trust me, I know from experience.
I guarantee that I’ve thought about it more than anyone I’ve talked to that rides, has ridden, and doesn’t ride.
If I do die riding someday, know that I was the happiest I could’ve been, sweating like a pig, shivering from the cold, ass so sore that it felt like I had a crack running perpendicular to the natural one, enjoying what I love and what it gave my soul.
Those close to me know it’s much more than getting on two wheels and just how much it means to me.

What a lot of people don’t know is that so many memories are made, going on so many road trips, how freeing it is, making new friends, and one day sitting around you’ll have a moment where you think to yourself, “damn, I never would’ve thought I’d gain another family out of this.”

THE DREAM THAT MANY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND:
I bought a motorcycle out of desire and a personal dream.
One day when I am very old and cannot walk anymore, it will still be in my life as a trophy of my memories.
I’ve met people who taught me something and have the same spirit, and I met others that I’m glad I forgot.
I got soaked, I got cold, I felt warm, I was afraid, I fell, I hurt myself, I stood up, I laughed out loud into the wind.
I spoke a thousand times to myself, and I sang and shouted with joy like a madman.
I have seen wonderful places and lived unforgettable experiences.
I’ve taken curves that even Valentino Rossi would be proud of, other times I took curves with a clenched sphincter.
I’ve stopped hundreds of times to take in a landscape.
I’ve spoken with perfect strangers, and I almost forgot people that I see every day.
I’ve even seen my woman get up on the bar and dance with the younger girls like it was nothing.
I’ve rolled out with demons inside of me and rolled back in with a feeling of absolute peace in my heart.

As I said, I’ve at times thought how dangerous it is but, knowing that the meaning of courage is to advance even when feeling fear.
Every time I go up to the motorcycle I think about how wonderful it is that a machine could provide so many life altering experiences.
I’ve all but stopped talking to those who don’t understand, they can’t and never will understand.
I’ve learned through gestures to communicate with other riders – and cagers.
At one time in my youthful arrogance I thought that I’d invented it.
I spent money that I did not have, gave up many things, but all these things are not worth a moment without a putt under my butt.
It’s not merely a means of transport or a piece of iron with wheels, it’s a part of my soul and my spirit.

If someone were to say to me, “You have to sell your motorcycle and you have to become a more serious person”. I scoff, turn my head and grin, because I’m about as serious a person as I’m ever going to be.
Only a person who loves and needs them to be who and what they truly are, understands that.

God bless all riders and their unique choice of life’s perspective.
The adventure continues.
If you so choose, I don’t care, copy the text and post it with your picture.

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Travel on a Budget

The thing about pulling a trailer is you can travel long-term on a budget. When you’re out on the road for months at a time like I’ve been you don’t want to spend $70+ every night on a room. After taxes and everything, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a room under $69 – unless you get out on back roads that were the touring grounds before the interstate system. But we’ll talk about that a little later.

Many bikers don’t like the idea of a trailer, as if it will take away some of your freedom. Maybe there’s some truth in that, but on the other hand it’s not much fun being piled up so much that you look like the Grinch stealing Christmas.

wandering the road

There’s a lot to be said for a minimal bedroll, I used to travel like that quite a bit. But if you’re on the road for any length of time or going to be visiting people, sightseeing, or doing business you’ll want a change of clothes and other items that you might carry if you were in a car. You can still maintaining your vagabond low budget way of life.

Sometimes it’s just good manners to clean up. Sometimes you want something different, or you’ve been told about this great place that’s on your route. Trust me, some places have no problem kicking you out for looking homeless. Even if you are homeless you don’t always have to look like it.

On the other side, having a camper on that trailer affords you a little more privacy and usually a better nights rest. Sleeping on the ground in 50 degree or less weather for several nights can really wear you out. Sometimes after a while it defeats the purpose of enjoying camping.

For where to go, there is open range, national forest, and BLM lands with no facilities for free. Areas with facilities for $7-14 a night (a week for less than one night in a hotel). And there are established campground that will charge more around $35 (KOA, etc) or more but throw in maybe a swimming pool and convenient location to food.  There are a couple phone apps that would also be useful.  UC Public CG, RV Parks and Campgrounds, Free Campsites, and my favorite Allstay Camp and Tent (it’s not a free app but I’ve found things on there that didn’t show up anywhere else).

Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about with all this.
I’m a touring musician. I might have 4 days between shows but only need 1 day to get there. So I find a place to kill some time, like a lake or something. I’m too old to wake up refreshed sleeping on the ground, and I need a few days of food, so in comes a camper trailer.  I need equipment and stage clothes, so there’s the cargo part of the trailer. Granted, I usually stay at a hotel the night of the show so I can get a shower before hand and not get lost in the dark is some strange place afterward – but that’s like one or two nights a week. The rest of the time I get to go fishing!

Now do that for months at a time and … see what I mean? I would be wet and miserable and unwelcome with just a bedroll.

Back to backroad motels. I hope nobody reads this and changes their policy. I find a lot of immigrants are buying these motels as someplace to live and earn a living. The location of these don’t usually afford an area of gainful employment. Personally I think it’s a really smart move on their part, like the people who built them in the first place. A lot of time they’re will to negotiate a price for the room like we Americans used to do before greed set in. They know volume can mean good business.

I don’t know where else to go with this. I’m sure we’ll touch on it again in future articles, or if I collect enough questions we’ll talk more about it.

Happy trails my friends

 

No Butts About It

A follow-up on my comfort article, I’m going to share a little of my experiences with motorcycle seats.

First off, I ride a Honda Sabre, which probably makes a big difference only where the stock saddle is concerned.  I liked the stock seat, it looked good, good width and was comfortable – for the first 60-miles.

Never had a Honda before so right after I got the bike I took a ride to the Honda Hoot in Knoxville, TN.  Not all that far from Phoenix, right?  But, less than halfway there I was regretting it… Butt Burn!!  And once you’ve got it, it doesn’t go away.  Never again.  That seat HAD TO GOSCORE:  Fail.

When I got back I bought a Saddlemen Explorer; I was in a hurry to get back out on the road and it was inexpensive (comparatively).  It was there in 2-days.  Only 2 things I didn’t like – it was a little narrow and didn’t quite reach the gas tank.  Also had to shorten the front tongue to keep it from cutting off my fuel line.  But what a difference in the ride.  150,000 miles should tell you I was snug as a bug in that seat.  Being narrow, it’s for a smaller butt, and the passenger seat was comfortable enough but not the greatest for a long road trip.  Around town it’s a little stiff riding… but get out on the road and push yourself back into it and you can ride for hours…  when you do the cross-country riding that I do, that is the bottom line (no pun intended).  Needless to say, the stitching finally wore out.  SCORE: Recommended.

I tried a Mustang Seat.  It wasn’t really the “look” I was going for though.  It was very comfortable, no denying that, but with all the padding it sat up too high for my liking.  Instead of being a part of the bike, it was a seat sitting on the bike … ya know?  Otherwise everything was perfect and it would look great on a full-dress bike.  Excellent passenger seat. In the few miles that I tried it, I had no complaints at all outside of the look of it on my bike.  Just couldn’t warm up to it.  SCORERecommended.

In comes Corbin.  The most expensive of them all.  It looks good except for the awkward stitching for the optional over-priced backrest – which, BTW, both sit off-center so putting one on would look like crap.  It wasn’t all that I was expecting compared to the seats I based my purchase on.  The whole seat sits crooked & off-center.  It’s wide and comfortable, but sits high and forward and leaves space between it & the tank instead of overlapping like it’s supposed to.  Pathetic but acceptable, so let’s get out on the road.  Inside of 50-miles I felt the butt burn coming on.  Seriously?  Must use the same padding as Honda.  In 500 miles it never got unbearable, you were afraid to move and make it worse.  The thing about Corbin is You bought it, you keep it, it’s yours – like it or not; and everything is riveted which makes it difficult to fix it yourself.

If not for this article you’d find the Corbin on EBay, it’s the single worse investment I’ve made on this bike, I won’t pawn it off on some poor sucker.  I might get some use out of it around town to spare a travel seat, it’s good enough for that… let people see how bad it looks.   SCORETake 5 one hundred dollar bills and put them through the shredder.

There is a place called Bar Enterprises that will rebuild seats at a reasonable price; if you have a seat you really like or don’t like, you might look into that.

There are a couple other less-known seat makers out there, and they’re very inexpensive.  Maybe someday I’ll try them just for fun, they’ll probably turn out to be the best ones.  Let me know if you go that route and save me a buck.

That’s my 2-cents on bike saddles; hope it helps in your shopping.

HELMET LAWS

Attached here is a booklet I did a few years ago outlining basic motorcycle laws in each State. Unless something has changed recently it still appears to be current. It’s a PDF file, just print it, fold it in half and staple or otherwise bind it in the middle. This Riders Booklet can be downloaded here.

At last look there are four (4) States that do not have helmet laws… Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

Twenty (20) States have a mandatory helmet law for all riders:  Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. But each of these States’ motorcycle helmet laws may have differing definitions and specifics. For example, West Virginia requires a reflector on the helmet which is in conflict with the DOT code that no stickers or modifications should be on a DOT Approved helmet.  As a visitor, don’t worry about it, just wear the thing.  Likened to tinted windows, if it’s legal in your State it will be overlooked if you’re passing through.

The most common loophole in mandatory laws seems to be the term “on highways”, which leaves the requirement of a helmet to ride down to the neighborhood market open to interpretation. If you want to be a real pain you should research your State’s helmet laws more closely; but remember, if you use such a loophole you better be following the letter of the law otherwise because they’ll probably start watching you.

Nineteen (19) States have helmet laws that exempt adult riders who are 18 years old and over. These are the States of Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Delaware wants you to have a helmet with you whether you wear it or not.

And there are seven (7) States that require adult bikers up to age 20 to still wear helmets while riding their motorcycles. These are Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.  Texas has a medical insurance clause.

I’ve noticed that some States are entertaining the idea of requiring the use of a helmet for X amount of time within getting a motorcycle endorsement or while having a permit. I personally find this much more sensible than a full mandatory law since a large percentage of accidents happen in that first year.  Why punish people who have been riding since before anyone had a helmet law?

Me?  Unless I just need a break from it, I wear a helmet on road trips – it’s just good sense traveling that fast; but around town you’ll rarely see me in one (unless it’s really cold or raining or the law). I’m less likely to turn my head or look over my shoulder with a helmet on, for me they are “unbalancing” and distracting. Every accident I’ve had was a direct result of having a helmet on.

Full-type helmets block the very things that have kept me alive all these years – hearing the car next to me, using peripheral vision, being aware of what’s going on around me for safety and quick maneuvers like locating places in a strange city, and most importantly the presence of pedestrians.

In my opinion, nothing is more dangerous than a helmet & face shield in a high pedestrian area – particularly at night.  You need to have all your senses working for you in such situations. Those helmets are also like automobiles, they give you a false sense of security.  You are more likely to travel much faster than you would without a helmet and take chances you might not otherwise take.  Make a note of that, you’ll see it’s true.

But that’s me and doesn’t have anything to do with you.

Safety is safety and if you feel you should wear a helmet – you should.  Don’t ever second-guess yourself about something like that. Wearing one or not wearing one is not going to make you look cool, it’s what you think that’s important… it’s your own personal safety issue.  Anyone who condemns you for wearing one or not wearing one should be considered the Village Idiot.

That’s my 2-cents on the subject.

– Capt. Walker

 

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COMFORT AND THE ART OF TRAVEL

I don’t know about everyone else, but my golden rule is “Relax”.

Half of the trip is already made when you are standing in the driveway putting on your gloves and looking to the sky for weather. Many times its just hard to get started, but once you’ve cleared the traffic and city limits it’s all about the ride. Lean back, set your throttle at a comfortable speed, and enjoy.

I live in the desert, there’s really not much going on in the way of changing scenery, but I always see something new and beautiful every time I’m out riding in it. That’s a good thing because the only way to get out of the desert in one day is to head straight north or to the coast. I’m always happy to get out of it and see trees and greenery once again; but by the same token I often look forward to going back so I can feel that hot air again… it’s a dilemma.

Nothing wrong with traveling in a car, it’s great when you’re trying to make time. You’re protected from the elements, got a comfy chair to sit in, and all you have to do is look out the big picture window and not run into anything. But you miss a lot and you spend most of your time saying “what was that?”.

On a bike you spend a lot of time saying “look at that!”. You are part of the scenery and aware of what’s going on around you at all times … daydreaming can get you killed. There’s a certain amount of exercise involved too, whether you realize it or not your muscles are always at the ready. You may not build muscle, but you can bet that riding 12 hours a day for 3 days is going to have you as toned as you can get.

“12 hours a day? That’s impossible!” you say. No, it’s actually pretty easy once you get into it.

The first thing you have to do is take a good look at your seat. You’re not getting anywhere if you’re not comfortable. Most stock seats will give you “butt-burn” inside of 2 hours. Not good. Take a good long ride-around without stops sometime and see how yours stacks up. If you have to stop regularly just because your butt hurts, then cough up that $300-$400 and get a new seat! If you do nothing else to ensure the success of your trip, you must do that one thing.

When you have pain you can’t focus, you are constantly trying to get comfortable or looking forward to the next place to pull off. And every time you make an unnecessary stop you are wasting time. It’s the difference between a 300-mile day and a 600-mile day. Even if you intend to only do 300-miles, do you really want a sore butt to be the reason?

I met a young lady last year (2011) who went to Washington State to buy a Ducati and was riding it home to New Mexico. Where I met her she could have been home that night (or maybe not, there was a storm up ahead), but the seat on that Ducati was getting the better of her. I don’t know what the after-market seats are for that kind of bike, but they do make pads that will fit onto any bike which will make a trip a lot more tolerable… I felt bad for her. Nevertheless, I was quite impressed with her for pulling off that trip, it was her first.

Yes, comfort is important. There are many “little things” you can do to customize your bike to make it “yours” without spending a great deal of money. It’s actually something you need to think about when you buy a bike, but getting a new bike can be exciting and we don’t always think that far ahead – or are willing to make sacrifices to get what is otherwise the perfect ride.

But keep in mind, if you’re going to take any kind of road trips a good seat is a necessity.

I’m sure there will be links popping up here & there – probably mostly in the Forum – and there are many already out there on the internet; so look around and then ask around what other people think about their seats.

Good questions to ask yourself: Will you need a backrest?  Lower lumbar support (like myself)?  Or just something simple that’s not going to make you wish you could go home?  Spend an extra dollar and get it right the first time.

– Capt. Walker

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